There are a few things that run rampant this time of year: top ten lists, post-Christmas/end of year sales, and of course New Year's Resolutions.
Personally, I chafe at the term resolution. In years past, a resolution represented an expectation. When life invariably went a different way than my expectation, I became disenchanted with the whole notion of my resolution.
I heard this recently, "Expectations are premeditated disappointment." This notion turned me on to the idea of setting my sights toward something in the new year, different than a resolution but an intention.
Yoga celebrates the idea that life can be a practice with room to course-correct as things change day to day. An intention for the new year rather than a resolution suggests there is room to move, grow, and adjust as the circumstances invariably so as well. So now, I set New Year's intentions instead of resolutions.
Surely there is commitment involved. Sometimes this can get us into trouble unless we see that we are committing to something larger. Here's what I mean. I have a really good friend who last year set her New Year Resolution to run five miles every day for the month of January. So on Jan. 1, she dusted off her old running shoes and without having run for years previous, hit the pavement. She felt great. . . for like 10 minutes. Then her joints and muscles started to hurt. But that's par for the course, right? Exercise is sometimes a bit of a sacrifice, right? Well, she was committed and kept running and after a week or so, she called me in a panic, "Scotty! What do I do?! I'm running every day and I feel terrible." Her muscles were killing her, inflamed and unhappy. She started to develop some pretty serious conditions in her Achilles tendons and hips. We have a mutual friend who is a gifted and seasoned physical therapist. She told my friend to stop running immediately and start therapy for her aching body parts, which she did immediately, all too happy to have permission to abandon her new year's resolution.
But what about the commitment and resolution and all that? My thought was that in addition to setting our sights for a goal or something for us to grow into—maybe eating better, improving our yoga practice, or running—do we have the commitment and foresight to take ALL the steps necessary to ensure the longevity of our intention? Maybe start by buying a new pair of shoes, researching a bit about running, and start by walking regularly, then running a little, walking a little, then finally running. It might take a few months to start the kind of discipline we'd imagined for ourselves but we've done it in a way that will help ensure our own wellness and optimal growth.
And take on your New Year’s intention like a practice, with room to course correct along the way when things invariably go differently than maybe you’d hoped.
I invite you to commit New Year's Intentions, something that will help you grow and understand yourself better in a way that is completely satisfying and long-lasting. I invite you to commit to the entire process which might mean starting off slowly and arriving at a rigorous pace a bit later on. This follows the yogic principle of balancing life with two essential elements: steadiness and ease (sthirim and sukham).
Hopefully this way we can all enjoy our opportunity for new growth rather than torture ourselves with it. And by the way, deepening your yoga practice is perhaps the best way I know of growing Self. It also compliments any other intention we have for the growth of our physical, emotional, or spiritual being.
SCOTT MOORE is a yoga instructor who is passionate about helping his clients feel alive, grounded, and purposeful through the art and practice of yoga and meditation. He's spent the past 15 years studying, practicing, and teaching yoga and meditation. To read Scott's full bio, click here.